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Rev. Black Visits Southeast Conference 

http://secucc .org/news-archives/1 68-rev-black-visits-with-the-s . 

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Rev. Black Visits Southeast Conference 

E r3 m 

February 5th through February 7th, newly elected General Minister and President of 
the United Church of Christ, Geoffrey Black, toured the Southeast Conference as he 
conducted the sixth of ten listening sessions across the United Church of Christ. During 
these listening sessions, he has looked forward to hearing the hopes and visions of 
UCC members for our beloved church. While in the Southeast Conference Rev. Black, 
spoke with members of 13 Southeast Conference congregations and new church 
starts, meeting with over 200 people in 4 listening sessions, and speaking in worship 
with Victory Church, UCC, Stone Mountain, and First Congregational UCC, Atlanta. 

Click to see slideshow! 

On Friday the 5th, Rev. Black toured Uplands 
Retirement Village including the new Wharton 
Nursing Home. Following the tour, he met 
with over 100 members of Pleasant Hill 
Community UCC, and United Church, 
Cookeville, UCC over a potluck supper. He 
reminded the gathering that the United 
Church of Christ is a leader among 
denominations, and a witness to justice, 
peace, ecumenism, and inclusiveness. While 
we are in challenging times, he noted that we 
have a rich future before us. Some of the visions for the UCC that were shared by the 
gathering were that the UCC would: 
n "Go into the world with love" 
n Engage environmental priorities 
n Promote participatory democracy, 
n Stand up against violence and pornography 
n Affirm that we are a people of "evangelical courage" 
n Enter the world as peace makers 

On Saturday over lunch, 23 TAP participants gathered from Atlanta, Stone Mountain, 
Chattanooga, Savannah and Birmingham. Rev. Black's opening comments reminded 
us that we are in a period of rapid change. We have been a denomination of "firsts" in 
this nation's history. We have been leaders in abolitionism, the rights of women, labor, 
civil rights, and the rights of LGBT people. Each of these moments of advocacy has 
been transformational in the history of the United States. 


Southeast Conference 

UCC News 

UCC Newsroom 

Headlines from the United 
Church of Christ 

Oklahoma City church continues 
legacy of dedicated member 
Stephanie Telleen chose to 
remember Mayflower 
Congregational United Church 
of Christ in her will when she 
passed away, leaving her 
half-million dollar estate to the 
church. Now the Oklahoma City 
church will use that estate to 
remember Telleen for her 
selflessness and generosity by 
funding two missions close to 
her heart. 

Cl'NTf R TOR] 


Visions that were shared with Rev. Black from the floor included a concern that we are 
not well known, we have a problem with "branding", and we need to share the good 
news of the still speaking God. We need to be passionate about our church and our 
values, and not let others define us. One participant noted, "We need to be Christly 
rather than trying to explain Christ". Audri Williams a member of Victory Church, Stone 
Mountain noted in a reflection on the event that we should be a people of "moral 
imagination" and that the dialogue with Rev. Black "awakening a sense of our capacity 
to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world." 

That evening, meeting with pastors and lay leaders involved in new church starts, 
those who gathered were invited to give one word that described their experience with 
new church starts in the UCC. Those words included; "sincerity" "expansive", 
"liberating", "awesome", "home", and "miracle". The stories of two of the new churches 

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Rev. Black Visits Southeast Conference 

http://secucc .org/news-archives/1 68-rev-black-visits-with-the-s . 

were shared with Rev. Black. One participant noted, "We are literally saving lives" by 
our ministries. Another noted that in the emerging models of new church development 
the lay leadership is every bit as important as the pastoral leadership. Rev. Black 
noted that this is a challenging season for doing new church development, and the 
UCC has not had a history of doing them well, but with the organization of the Center 
for Progressive Renewal, he hopes that we can improve new church development. 

On Sunday, the tour continued with Rev. Black bringing greetings to over 1 ,000 
worshippers gathered for the early service at Victory Church, and preached to over 200 
at First Congregational UCC, Atlanta on the theme "A Sacred Challenge... A Faithful 
Response". From there, he was welcomed at a lunch with some of the leadership of 
Central Congregational UCC. 

At 2:00, over 50 people gathered for a final listening session. Visions that were shared 
for the United Church of Christ included the hope that we would truly be a 
denomination where all were welcomed. Another respondent asked that we take being 
a just peace denomination seriously. Another offered up a vision of having a multitude 
of Spanish speaking ONA UCC churches across the denomination. One person invited 
us to dream of becoming a "theological NPR", fostering thoughtful theological 
conversations. Other visions engaged the hopes for greater diversity in the pews of 
churches, more youth, and vibrant worship. 

Click here to read comments by a TAP member who attended the luncheon with Rev. 
Geoffrey Black. 

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